Another year has come and gone. As I welcome in the new year, I pour myself a nice glass of wine and take some time to reflect on the year that has passed. Scrolling through my hoards of photos, I’m transported back to the moments of the last 12 months; the memories, the campsites, the laughs, the campfires, the drinks cheered to, the meals slaved over in the backcountry and a pocket full of secret spots discovered. It has been a truly spectacular year for adventure, maybe one of the best. Usually this is when I would take a tally of the years successes: how many nights under the stars, how many new parks did I visit, how many miles did I log or summits did I reach? I’ve typically measured my outdoors success in concrete numbers. But something felt different this year. The numbers didn’t seem to mean as much to me. But why? And what made THIS year feel so special? As I pondered this year of adventures, I looked inward to determine why this has been one of the best to date.
This year, I chose to adventure with a purpose beyond just hiking as many miles as I could or spending as many nights outside as possible. A purpose; whether a physical challenge, discovering a new landscape, to grow new friendships and old, to celebrate in the outdoors, to find peace and quiet or to just be more present. I promised myself time to unwind and be “all there” in each place I wandered instead of speed-hiking through it to simply crush miles. I found this gave me more time to make memories and find peace and have good, old-fashioned FUN. I made it a point this year to slow down on the trail, to make great food, to take a gazillion photos, to build epic campfires, to share drinks with friends, to listen to the songs of the peepers or to wake up in the middle of the night to look at the night sky and be in wonder of where I was standing. I made myself get up for each and every sunrise I possibly could, because even if I wanted to stay in my warm sleeping bag, I always walked away from a sunrise with heart full of gratitude to start my day.
As a result, what I found this year was a deeper connection to these places and their purpose for me; all of which I try to bring back to my non-trail life. For me, the most important adventures were not when I ticked off the 15th summit on my list, but the moments in between and the people I shared them with.
It has been a year of solid, meaningful adventures. Just as life is ever changing, so are we and the places we visit. Adventure can mean many things to each and every person at many different times in their life. The fact that we can evolve and adapt to make adventures whatever we need them to be in that moment, is one of the many reasons I love being outside. I trust that the upcoming year will have the same in store for me.
Cheers to great adventures for 2018; having fun, enjoying the moments and being around the people we love, in the places we can’t stop exploring. Happy Hiking.